Monday, March 6, 2017

It Has Been Years ....

.... I wrote on the blog.

Too  much going on that finding time to put it on here is just too difficult.

So I am going to have the oldest one begin to blog about our school and 4H and archery and life. She needs the practice.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Accused of Servicitis

Sure I know that there is not such word but that is what was told to me.  I seem to have a constantly busy schedule and thus I again neglect the blog but I wanted to write about this.  I did not want to fill my Facebook page with such gibberish as it would be too long.  So what exactly is SERVICITIS>>>

I enjoying doing things of interest to me and I have a many things that interest me. Take for instance teaching Grace and Faith. I enjoy this more than mere words seem to express.  I enjoy many things. I like to take a walk in the woods.  I will do it alone but love to do it with my grandchildren.  I like to shoot the bow and arrow and can do it alone but like to share it with others.  I like to plan and conduct Girl Scout meetings that of course can not be done alone.  I like to tend to the chickens and the donkeys. I like to build a garden.  So let me elaborate just a bit on these ideas.

Beginning with the garden.  I do not particularly like to garden.  I enjoy seeing it in full glory but I dislike preparing for it and planting it and I dislike maintaining it. Fortunately for me Faith seems to LOVE these things so I enjoy gardening with Faith.  This garden began as Grace's 4H project and while she planned it and worked it the majority of sweat equity came from her little sister.  It seems to come naturally for her.  Since Grace wanted to do the gardening project, Faith and I helped her to get the ball rolling.   The entire family will enjoy the few things that come from the garden this year but we look forward already to a better garden next year.  Why do I do this work?  Because I want to see the girls learn some valuable life skills.  I do not consider it a servitude to help with this.

Next on my list are the chickens and donkeys.  I should add to that cats and dogs as well.  I fine great joy in watching them, tending to them, petting them, laughing at them, gathering their eggs and teaching the kiddos the importance of animal care.  Step one, you don't eat until they are fed and watered.  It teaching them commitment to others and humane compassion to the needs of others, be it human or animal.  It builds responsibility and I do not consider this lesson to be a part of my servitude. 

Girl Scouts is an opportunity to teach girls about themselves, about a multitude of life skills and the importance of service to others and respect for diversity.  Diversity is the one MAIN reason that I stick with the GSA when others are fleeing and turning to the AHG program.  Yes we do community service for others but we all greatly benefit. Again, I do not consider this a servitude because I enjoy it so much and do not feel a burden by the service we do.

The homeschool archery team is the next on my list of things that I do.  I am asked why I do not charge for the classes that I conduct.  I am told that others would appreciate it more if they had to pay a fee.  I am absolutely sure that is not true.  Those who come to the archery program enjoy the process.  I enjoy the process.  I am thrilled when I seem them achieve something and that sense of accomplishment over takes the smile on their face.  I do this for me.  I do this for very selfish reasons.  I want my grandchildren to have this available to them.  I want them to do it in a group of kiddos their own age and yes even all homeschooled.  I want it to be available to all and those who homeschool often make sacrifices as it is with being a one income family.  Others benefit from what I enjoy.  The kiddos all get to develop another life skill and all the added perks such as patience, confidence, concentration and oh so many other positive rewards.  My grandchildren get to interact with other kids their age in the middle of the morning once per week.  I do not consider this a service but a privilege.  To tie a nock or glue a fletch can be relaxing.  To pack up seventeen bows and eight dozen arrows each week keeps me physically active.  Again, not a servitude.

Let me recall what else I was talking about.  Like walks in the woods that become an eye opening experience when shared with grandchildren or a trip to the zoo to see observe them observing the world.  I did not even mention that I am a nurse therefore I must want to serve others.  NO I do not.  I am a nurse and not a waitress.  I want to do what comes naturally to me and for some reason that is nursing. I want to teach people how to care for themselves.  I want to use my skill to observe for changes and to act on those assessments appropriately.  I want to go to work and earn the money that I make.  I want to get my paycheck in a very secure job. 

I am not a service junkie.  I am a Christian.  I do things for others that bring me joy.  I do not bring home dirty laundry and wash it for people who cannot not do it themselves.  Why not?  Because I do not enjoy doing it.  I think if a person is chronically providing service for others to a point that it becomes a servitude then you can tell them they have SERVICITIS but that is not me.  I do not do anything that I do not want to do.  I do not do anything for others that I do not enjoy doing. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

When You are Too Busy......

When you are too busy to post on the blog then you know that there have been tons of great learning opportunities.

So let me begin with something most recent but it ties into the last few post about the Cahokia Mounds.  This week the girls and I got up early in the morning to watch the sunrise.  That certainly does not sound like an important event.  The sun rises and sets everyday according to God's plan.  This one was particularly special.  Since we have recently studied the Cahokia Mounds Historical Heritage Site we learned about the Woodhenge and the determination that it was an important time keeper of sorts to the Mississippian Culture. 

Tuesday was the first sunrise for fall.  So our sunrise was not just any day.  It was the first sunrise of the 2014 fall season.  It was experienced at center pole Woodhenge at the Cahokia Mounds Site. 
Here is a fabulous photo of the morning.  I must add that these kids are bundled up for a chilly morning, still in our pajamas as that was part of the FUN we put into the experience.  I made a video of it as well and set it to music but have been unable to get the computer's card reader to work for some reason. Perhaps we will get that figured out and perhaps it just was not properly formatted or something.  I can see it on the video camera though.  So here is our sunrise photo, messed hair and all.

Behind them you can see the Monks Mound and the glorious Sun on this first morning of fall.

So what else have we been up to you may ask.  Gee, it seems like we must have more than 24 hours in a day when you hear what we are doing. 

Our typical school day is still looking the same.  Be are sure to honor our Flag, to sing our National Anthem and to appreciate our Constitutional Freedoms.  We began reciting the American's Creed as well and will do that for four weeks as part of our lesson plan.  From there our day declines quickly. 
I have once again stopped setting up the daily schedule of what lesson will be done at what time.  As time goes on I have discovered that they do best if they get to choose which subject is going to be done next.  I try to set a schedule for them to follow but they are more eager learners when they feel they are given options.

Faith has begun carrying with her multiplication facts and she really enjoys this process.  While we do not do common core, the A Beka Book begins explaining the process of carrying in multiplication much like the common core handles all aspects of the process. Faith looked at the board, her text book and my eyes.  She was lost.  So instead I said, lets try it this way.  We multiplied, carried, multiplied and added.  Her response was classic.  "That is a whole lot easier. My brain was lost the other way and this way is tons faster. Why would we do it the other way?"  I explained that we would not do it that way but it is important to know why you are putting that one above the next digit.  Needless to say, she flew through the rest of her lesson for the day.

Grace's math continues to make progress.  I wish I had some magic fix for her math block. She is doing simple measurement conversations.  Her basic skills are really shaping up nicely as we continue to use them more and more.  I know without a doubt that she would be failing math if she was in the public school system.  I have faced this before with my son.  The ps does not have some magic formula either to help the struggling math learner.  AT least we can keep her at the level she is working and work forward in the process.  The important thing to know is that she is learning. She is not crying. She does not have 2-3 hours of math homework every night.  Her public school counterparts that are in her girl scout troop are really having a hard time with the new math. 

Other core subjects are really coming along great. Faith's language this year is real language arts. She is not too thrilled with it but at least I can make it fun for her.  It seems she never considered reading to be part of language. This past week as we were reading a poem I began to write the poem on the board as she read it.  I was thrilled when she caught on immediately that the poem topic was the Lord.  She did this because she found an upper case letter in the word One and His.  When she saw that she quickly shouted, "its the Lord" and explained to me that she knew it because of the capitalization of the word as it referred to God/Jesus.  I then place the words on the board and she got her first taste of ABABCDCD rhyming patterns in a poetry stanza.  When we were all through she was having fun with it and went on independently to the next poem in the book. No, it was not on the lesson plan but I am not going to stop a learner when they are in full swing.  To her amazement, the lessons she has been learning in her "real language" class helped to better appreciate what she read in
Reading Class. 

So your getting the picture that our classroom time is a huge success lately.  That does not make us busy.  What makes our time fill up is all the living that happens between the learning and during the learning.  I think I will start with Faith.

Faith decided that she did not find gymnastics to be her passion. She enjoyed going to gymnastics and actually did well in the advancement of skills.  She asked to try dance lessons instead. This is not something that Grace is at all interested in doing.  So Faith is not doing ballet/tap/jazz on Monday evening from 5:30-7:00pm.  She is very tired at the end of the session but seems to be excited about it.  That is not to say that she will find her passion in dance but time will tell.

Faith's Brownie Girl Scout Troop on the other hand has resumed their weekly meetings on Tuesday evening. I am the leader for the group so that means that I am managing Faith's evening activities twice per week.

As we move onto Grace's activities it was clear that gymnastics is not her thing at all.  Her skill was slower to develop but she did progress.  It was not a confidence builder for her and never seemed to be something to fill her with much joy.  She enjoyed going and getting out but I think she liked the time with me more than the class.  She asked to stop before the last session was even over.  I must say, she gave it a try but not her cup of tea.  Perhaps the fact that the girls there were so much younger than her had a hand in that.  She got started later than most.  So I have been trying to line up a person to work with her and horses.  Nothing is set in stone yet but I do have a local person who has stated they are willing to provide lessons regarding riding and care of the horse.  (no, I have no plans to get a horse)

Grace did manage to get a new piano teacher that was available and closer to home than the one we had before. She has sparked a renewed flame in Grace to achieve in the piano.  The best part is that the teacher is on the way to ballet and had openings on Mondays. 

So just what does our week look like right now?  OK here it goes:
Monday: The day begin with tending to the farm animals and gathering eggs. Lessons in all subjects in the classroom.  Done with a sluggish start as I have just  worked the weekend.  Our Kitchen Table Monday projects are really thrown out the window or we would never get any subject lesson progress.  We prepare an afternoon snack and hit the road for 4:30 piano and 5:30 dance.  During dance Grace and I go to the library two blocks down and Grace gets to experience a HUGE library compared to our own.  Return the children home to their mother very hungry by 7:30pm

Tuesday:  Farm animals.  Archery team lesson/practice from 10-12 but it takes 35 minutes to get there and I am the coach so it takes 30 minutes to set up the archery range.  Lunch out together.  Return to home where we can work on our archeological digs or our "thinking out of the box" sort of projects we use to do on Monday.  Meal preparation together and thus working on some domestic issue along with some practical math.  The day is not over until Girl Scouts are over. We meet at the library so Grace comes along as she is a regular at our library and can always find something to do.  Following the Girl Scout meeting the girls are returned home about 8pm.

Wednesday: This is our no nonsense class day. We get tons of lessons completed. The girls know that if they want to do archery and the cooperative that they must do more than one lesson per day.  On Wednesday they tend to really be eager learners.  Of course they must first tend to the animals.  I manage to always find a way to keep the day more interesting than doubled up lessons.  ON this night the girls are staying the night with me.  The next day is the Cooperative and enrichment classes.  (I think this probably needs to change but when they are at home then the whole process of getting ready get complicated somehow)--besides I like to have the spend the night at least once per week.
On Wednesday evenings Grace has her Girl Scout Troop meetings but Kelley is the leader for that troop and I get some time with Faith while Grace is gone.  When Matt works I will have Owen with me as well.

Thursday:  Early to rise, eat a meal, pack the car, pack a lunch, and feed the animals before we leave. Owen arrives and by 0800 we are on the road again. This time traveling 45 minutes to our gathering place.  We are there until around 3:30pm.  We have 1 hour for lunch that can be experienced in a picnic at the park down the road. Each child has three classes and one PE period that they participate in for the day.  I have four class hours that I teach, leaving me free for one hour without teaching.  We get a snack on the way home and by 4:30 the children are delivered to their mother again.

Friday:  Kiddos arrive whenever they get here. Flexible but all subjects are again accomplished.  There are several times that we have field trip opportunities arise on a Friday.  I am trying to avoid committing to all of them or we would never get core subject matter completed. 

Well, that is a snap shot of the week with the kiddos. Kelley is in the classroom a large part of the time as well but not all day every week.  I still work on the weekends but that has nothing to do with the education of grandchildren. 

Keep in mind that this is all flexible.  For instance, the sunrise lesson does not fit the plan that has been listed above at all. Neither do the Powell Symphony Hall trips or the glass blowing trips that we are doing.  They are not weekly but they manage to fit into this plan somehow. 

I must end this post somewhere along the line so I guess this will be the end point. I have so much to say about Grace's animation class and Faith's chess club but find it is just too long and boring to go on.  The post has lost its flare.  SO TTFN.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Catching up #3. Our dig has begun

Finally I get to the point that our own archeological dig has begun.  I know I know I have you on your seats waiting.  If you have not read post #1 and #2 then be sure to scroll past this and get caught up with the process. 

We have about six acres, live in a log kit home that is about thirty-five years olds.  It is not one of those fancy log houses. I tend to chuckle that I live in a cabin so dusty floors are only natural.  There is a space to the south of me that is large open space and I call it the pasture.  There was a fence before we moved here as well and the prior owners had horses.  Long ago I met a man in a nursing home who was telling me about his hog farm when he was a younger man.  He did not know where I lived and we came to understand that this space was part of his holding.  Much of the surrounding area has been river edge fishing cabins and in the roaring times there was a honky-tonk down here that was only accessible via the Kaskaskia River.  I thought we would find a something of interest but had no idea just how quickly we would hit pay dirt.

We did not use some scientific method to choose our area to dig. It was merely determined by the geographical location of the property.  I knew we could not dig in the back half or we would be bothered by the donkeys the entire time.  If I wanted the blessing of my husband it would require not being part of his yard that he enjoys.  I picked a spot to the far south of the front pasture and away from groves of trees so I did not hit tons of roots.  I chose a spot that is near a peach tree that struggled and finally died.
I went to great lengths to let the children know that it would be weeks before we find something, if we ever did.  Then, suddenly, only a few moments into the process we hit a rock.  Not some small rock but we were pulling up rocks quickly that were small and white.  They reminded me of landscaping rocks. Not sure why but the large rock was gently cleared away.  We kept going as they got all excited and below that rock was another rock. Wait!  It is not a rock. It is a stone and they belong together. The area next to the stone will not dig away. We head to the left of the first stone instead of the one that it was stacked upon and decide that there is another stone there and the dirt that will not dig between them is not dirt but some form of mortar.  We brush away the dirt from the bottom stone and see that is has been manipulated to have a grove of some sort. 

You see in this photo the stones as we begin to uncover them.


As if that was not exciting enough we also found treasures within the dirt.  At Cahokia Mounds the girls learned to look at the dirt. Observe for color changes that might indicate something other than dirt had been there.  The watched for color changes in the soil. 

While we did find one really cool thing to be revealed tomorrow when I can get the photo uploaded that is a cool archeological find we also found a colony of some sort.  There were various stages in the larvae stage.  We then found an adult beetle.  "COOL!"  Better than that. As they tore into the dirt that they dug up gently they also found it in a pupae stage.  This photo is from that find as well.  This dig is not just about finding the history of our soil but we explored the layers of soil and live we found within it.  Science along with history makes homeschooling extra spectacular. 

Here is the photo of our insect stages.

 The best part of this day was that we shared it with some new, old friends.  A new homeschooler was six days into the process. She was a girl in my Girl Scout Troop as a child and now has three of her own children.  I met her kiddos and they all played together and got to know each other.  We will continue this dig as the months go on. 

I never did get to the Bird Man Tablet today. Guess it will wait for our great find within the clay on the next entry.-

Monday, August 18, 2014

Catching up #2

Let me first say that I certainly attempted to get back on to work on the blog entry. I struggled a bit to get this silly blogger to upload my files.  I do not make my entries via my goggle+. I don't really head to the main page for that part of goggle either.  It seems that the only way to get the photos to load from my current storage to this blog is to sync more of my computer to the web itself.  It seems I am forced more and more into this automated system of collaborating programs to get what I want done. I fear one day, my dell wake up and be found sitting in this spot, demanding that I actually dust it out.

Back to our trip to Cahokia Mounds and the experience the archeological dig in our pasture:

Let me first share this photo with you.  It is of Grace and Faith with a 250 cake.  This is the 250 birthday of St. Louis and in commemoration there are 250 birthday cakes that are placed throughout the region, yes even in Illinois.  The cakes are made to represent a "point" of significance for STL. 
It goes unsaid to realize that Cahokia Mounds is indeed a significant point.  I am a bit saddened by the fact that they did not place one near some of the sites not far from here.  They went some wide distance but did little to acknowledge that without Kaskaskia, Illinois and the French forts, STL would not even have existed.  With that said here is the picture.

I have learned that it often takes a spark from another to kindle the fire. That is the case with the choice to do our own dig.  During our experience at Cahokia Mounds we participated in a FREE docent lead tour. It takes about one hour to take the tour. You walk some, stop and chat some, then move on to the next leg of the tour.  There was an elderly man that lead our tour.  I would like to say that the girls were perfect, attentive students that I was proud of but the fact of the matter is that they were children who find interest in the bugs and stones that they see more than what the man is talking about.  Well, that is at least what it looked like. UNTIL we began our journey home and the two start talking about the tour.  It was this elderly man, whom I am certain felt underappreciated at the moment that kindled their fire to know more not only about the Mississippian culture but about the process of archeology.  It was his words that helped them to find more interest in the displays within the building itself.  Had we not attended the tour then the experience at the top of Monk Mound would have been much different. 

Grace stood at the top of Monks Mound and looked out to find the structures he had spoken about to us.  I know he thought that she did not hear a word that he said but it was clear she had.  I of course know that Grace and spin on her toes and listen at the same time but the general public expects students who are use to sitting in a desk all day and afraid to fart.  So that brings me to the next part of our picture display.  He taught them about the Bird Man Tablet, about Woodhenge, and the chief that was buried at Mound 72.

Here are some photos to share with you from that follow up experience.  Stay tuned for the next posting as we go further into our own archeological dig experience.

Stock photo of Woodhenge from the Mounds web site

Faith asked me to dance around the pole at Woodhenge. This is the center pole. We danced together then I captured this fabulous photo of the experience.

Nearing the end of our day we are finally going to climb Monks Mound.  The girls stopped along the way to recall the information that our guide had shared.  Grace recalling a fact about how it got its name and Faith recalling why the first platform of the mound is higher on the left than the right.

This was the view that day of St. Louis.  It was a yellow air quality day in the city.

The girls drew their own versions of the Bird Man Tablet in the dust of the rock path on top of the mound.  They chuckled that perhaps somebody will think an Indian place it there. 

So there you have it.  More on the Bird Man Tablet and our own site very soon.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Catching up post #1

It has been forever since I made a post to the blog.  Not that I have not begun an entry.  I have been so darn busy that by the time I begin to type and think about what I want to post, I begin to let my eyes close and cannot complete an intelligent comment.

Knowing that there are only a few who read my blog I have used that as an ongoing excuse to stop.  Well, now our friend who live far away is not able to have much contact with us without the blog.  So read it if you want but don't expect a lot from me.  I will try to keep it interesting but most of all I want JR to get information and share some great school photos.

I cannot possible go back very far but think I may start with the most recent while it is fresh and then if I manage to catch up going backwards then great.  I do expect more happening as well since we begin our fifth year homeschooling.

This past week has been rather interesting.  We decided to do an archeological dig in our pasture.  This all came about at the request of Faith.  We experienced a wonderful day at Cahokia Mounds.  It has been several years since we had gone there.  The girls enjoyed it much more than I had anticipated.  They of course are older and more involved with their own education but we did the whole day there.  At the end of the day they both told me how much they enjoyed it.  Faith let me know that this was the best history field trip we have ever had. 

Faith went on to explain how wonderful it is that we were able to see "real" artifacts that "real" people handled in their every day life.  I have to agree with her.  Such an opportunity that is so close to home is wonderful.  Cahokia Mounds is considered a World Heritage Site which puts its amazing contribution like that of the Great Pyramids.  Thus came her request to dig up our yard. 

Before I share with you our archeological dig let me share some of our trip to Cahokia Mounds.
We began by watching the movie.  I will post more later as I seem to be having problems getting picture to upload without closing this site.  I promise to finish it within 24 hours.

Now that you watched the video, imagine if you will, that as the movie ends the screen raises and it reveals the inner museum display of daily life of the inhabitants of this city. It is really a wonderful experience.  You then exit to the display and take your time to go to each exhibit.  I am so pleased to see the girls taking the time to explore these displays and not just pass by them.  To me, it is a way to give respect to all the ancestors of this earth.  To actually stop, read, touch and ask. 

If you can ever get to this location I do suggest that you visit the Mounds.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It has been more than a month since I blogged

I do not have any grand excuse other than to say that we have been busy, busy, busy.  It seems that once I get one thing accomplished, another something comes along.  So let me try to recall what we have been up to in the past six weeks.

Going from the most recent event would be the fact that we just spent on week attending Girl Scout Day Camp with the Southern Illinois Council.  There are several day camp opportunities but I have come to enjoy the one held by service unit 211 out of Waterloo, Illinois.  They conduct their camp within the beautiful grounds of Camp Vandeventer, which is owned by the Boy Scouts.  The theme of camp was Surf's Up and the girls worked on a patch that they can only get from the GS Council of Hawaii.  They are looking forward to the delivery of the patch.  Grace also walked the Eagle Trail Challenge again.  It is at this camp that one can earn that patch and no place else. This was her second year so she got a feather for her repeat of the trail.  I volunteer for the week of camp and this year it was very different for me. This year I was the camp nurse.  I missed out on tons of fun that was being experienced by the girls.  I had a girl in sick bay when the girls did their big hula dance display as well.  Not so sure I liked that part but it was a much easier week for me than walking miles and miles each day in the heat.  Although I had an AC in the building, I set out in the warmth along with the girls and reclined in my chair most of the time.  I took time to do some lesson planning for the cooperative classes I will teach this fall.

I would like to say that we are finished with school but honestly we are not.  We have gone to a M-W-F schedule for the summer but I have tons to do with them yet.  My planning of time next year is based on what I learned this year.  The previous years we did not have this issue.  Truth be told, year round math is a must for Grace anyway.

So let me think, think, think.... ( I love Winnie the Pooh).  What did we do before camp and what is around the corner?  Well it is hard to say as we are always doing something and I love having the opportunity to have the children with me.  Next week will be VBS all week in the morning.  The library reading program has begun on Thursday afternoons and the girls have been at the library several times per week. 
Tons of spot thunderstorms keep limiting some of what we accomplish is the day.  The pool is open and not being used as much as it should be.  My great nephew is in town and I got to have him here for a night. They were in the pool by 10 am.  That was a good day.  Unfortunately, it was also the day the Grace has piano lessons and the girls have gymnastics. So the afternoon was not much fun for him.  He also does not tolerate the heat well. 

The archery team is making progress.  We just need to get some funding to help make some purchases.  I plan to have archery every Tuesday morning, Co-op will be all day Thursday so you can see why I have to do creative planning for the next school year.